The esports community reacted to the invasion of Ukraine with an huge show of support for the nation.

On February 24th, the world awoke to news of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. So naturally, many esports fans, professionals, and talent’s minds immediately turned to their colleagues from Ukraine, whose lives will have been turned upside down by the outbreak of conflict.

Across the esports space, players reacted with shock, organizations reached out with messages of support, and personalities attempted to make sense of what was happening. Across the world, the news coming out of Ukraine has already made an enormous impact. In our small part of the global consciousness, esports and gaming has already begun to feel the effect of conflict.

Ukrainian esports players weigh in

Vast numbers of esports professionals and players hail from Ukraine. Oleksandr “S1mple” Kostyliev is perhaps the most famous Ukrainian esports player. A world champion in CS:GO, and currently playing at IEM Katowice 2022, S1mple posted a harrowing message in the early hours of February 24th:

The day before, S1mple had posted an impassioned plea in Russian. It read, “Please, please, stop, I can’t do this anymore, we all need peace.” ESL announced that IEM Katowice would continue in spite of the conflict. Hundreds of esports personalities reached out to S1mple on his Twitter with sentiments that he “stay safe.”

Meanwhile, in the Dota world, another competitor for the title of “most famous Ukrainian esports player,” Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, shared his feelings: 

Dendi’s Twitter profile states he’s based in Lviv, Ukraine, one of the few cities to escape the initial attacks. Dota 2 has dozens of high-profile Ukrainian players, including members of TI10 winners Team Spirit. Dota 2 remains one of the most popular games in the country.

In the Apex Legends world, Kirill “9impulse” Kostiv, a Belarusian player based in Kyiv, weighed in. He stated that he was considering his options in the wake of the invasion.

Aleksey “WhiteRa” Krupnyk, a StarCraft II player based in Odesa, Ukraine, posted a video of what appeared to be a protest in the city. Odesa is a strategically important city on the edge of the Black Sea.

Hundreds of players from dozens of esports have been affected by the renewal of conflict in Ukraine.

Changing Logos and Opening Doors

In the wake of the violence, esports teams rallied to support the Ukrainian people. One of the first messages came from Team Liquid. Liquid’s founder and co-CEO Victor “Nazgul” Goossens shared a story about a Ukrainian player reaching out to him.

The post shared that Team Liquid would be opening accommodation for esports players displaced by the conflict.

Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere felt the opening shots of the conflict deeply as it happened right on their doorstep. As a result, the team changed its profile picture to the Ukrainian flag and shared passionate sentiments on Twitter.  

Additionally, Team Spirit, TI10 winners, and victors in the EEU DPC Regional Finals shared their comments on the invasion. They doubled down on a commitment to being an international team and shared their concerns for the safety of their employees and their families.

In solidarity, esports teams from around the world changed their logos to the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag. These include Fnatic, G2 Esports, MBR Esports, Astralis, Optic Gaming, Faze, Furia, and NRG. Throughout the day, dozens of esports organizations reached out to support Ukraine.

The outpouring of support for Ukraine has been massive. From esports companies like WePlay Esports, who have hosted events for Dota, CS:GO, and the FGC, to Na’Vi, Ukraine’s most storied esports organization, and individual players, this conflict will affect thousands within the industry. 

While the esports and gaming space represents just a small section of those affected, seeing these stories and reactions from players and teams hits especially close to home.